Monday, March 30, 2015

Time to Breath

Me and Linda after
she decorated my goatee
The world is seemingly nothing of what it was 8 months ago.  I thought I had an appreciation for the change ahead in my life, I thought I knew what I was getting into...little did I know I was about enter a world so many long for and don't even realize it.  A world where people are genuine, a world where someone's word is worth far more than a claim check, a world where you start asking about your friends if you haven't physically seen them in a few days, a world that can be so busy that you blink in November and open your eyes in March, a world I wouldn't trade for anything...

It's been a crazy busy few weeks - Brian is down for a visit, Eric got arrested, I made it on the board for the Tour Operator Association...plenty of other stuff happened.  Mark, General Manager of The Phoenix (a multiple winner of the #1 Resort in the Caribbean) paid my staff an amazing compliment yesterday.  He told me that he was so impressed at how they cared for everyone on the Sunset Sail and that even though they ran, jumped, cleaned, served, and hustled the entire time, because of the smiles and great attitude they exuded it didn't look like they had worked a minute. A team that truly loves their job will never work, but have fun living life and the things we do.  So blessed that is my team.
Eric singing "Kiss me I'm Shit Faced"

Saint Paddy's'm not sure I know how I survived that odyssey.  It was fun partying with my man Tomas, operator of Hostel la Vista.  The night started innocently enough at Lola's...but the night got crazy once we got to Pedro's.  Eric sang karaoke, Brian and I watched and enjoyed some killer beef stew.  I danced some two step with a very nice lady I've met many many times...I can never remember her name (I want to say Kristen...but not quite). What makes it worse is I have NO problem remembering her friends name - cause she's hot and single (both are totally hot, but the one I danced with is married...though I should really remember her name cause her and her husband Randy are cool people - Canadians...of course they're cool). After Pedro's - no comment (5 hours of my life I would have rather slept through)...but David, you're broken selfie stick is still in my house.

So Eric was arrested last week - briefly!  He resembles a guy wanted for murder apparently.  The police treated him extremely well and he treated them with respect and kindness as well - cooperating with each request quickly and smoothly.  Luckily Brian was around to go back to the house and collect Eric's ID.  He found me and we went to the station to prove my brother's innocence. When we arrived he was already un-cuffed and sitting there; the officers apologized for the confusion, and my brother being the stand up guy he is (even at 2am), told them they had nothing to apologize for and that he appreciated them trying to keep us all safe.  Wise words young lad.

The sobering part of that was a few nights later.  We ran into a woman that stopped us, she said she was so sorry that my brother got picked up by the police.  You see this is the woman that came to the station before Brian and I got there and had told the police Eric wasn't the guy...the guy that killed her son.  The world is small...on an island it is microscopic.

This is the greatest place on Earth.  The people of San Pedro Belize and more amazing than anticipated.  There is no doubt in my mind that Ambergris Caye should win #1 Island in the World every year.

I really wanted to hit the emotions surrounding the loss of my dog Bailey the other day...but this post is long enough.  Suffice it to say that it made me more than a little sick, and thinking of the past.

Okay, its a been a couple days and I have a bit more writing mojo; Bailey (pictured left); passed away a few days back.  He was the weirdest damn dog.  You could hold this dog and pet him 23 hours a day, and by goodness the second you removed your hand he was so incensed and looked at you like you must hate him.  We had a fun little game, cause he would let you put him in all sorts of weird places and not issue a single bark, called "Where's Bailey".  He ended up in coolers, dryers, back packs, name it, he was likely there.

  Eh, emotions and such.  Just need a bit of time to breath.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kiteboarding Adventures on Ambergris Caye

Kiteboarding  Over the years I've seen plenty of crazy people doing this sport and thinking they were bat shit crazy. Likely they are - but I hope to count myself among them!  I had many preconceptions about this sport that have vastly been proven wrong. An absolutely enormous thank you to Andy with Belize Sailing Center and Audrius the KiteXplorer instructor in San Pedro, Belize. Thank you so much for the invite - awesome experience and I will continue my kite education. There are so many great learning opportunities through this great organization -

I've always been into some semi-extreme action sports; snowboarding and mountain biking.  So putting a board on my feet and going fast is nothing new - and water is softer than snow right?!  Not so much.  Audrius said, during my lesson, that I had the best kite control by a first day student he had ever seen.  Was this a move to boost my ego and get a good review?  If so - it worked.  But I was amazed at how well I was able to feel the kite and know what to so to get it where I needed it to be.

I've decided to tail the tale via my busted misconceptions about this sport.

Super easy and super quick rigging
Misconception 1 - Stupid amounts of gear, stupid amounts of set up (kinda like a baked potato if you know me at all).  Even as a guy that had to be walked through everything we had the kite setup and ready to fly in maybe 15 minutes.  The gear fit easily into packs, was REALLY light to carry, and not at all the cumbersome mess and cords and crapola I had been expecting. One trip to the boat is all it took; I took more junk to work most days in my previous life. - Audrus keeping her from
taking flight!
Misconception 2 - You have to be skinny and sexy and in great condition.   I'm a big dude, decent shape for my size, but still big.  My classmate on this day was - the skinniest person I've ever known.  I was sure she was gonna disappear into the sky forever...she did not.  Though she did some pretty gnarly face plants.  The way the kite is attached to the harness takes the pressure off your arms and allows your whole body to feel the kite.  Your arms essentially hang free - only used to control the kite.  I was expected a huge pulling force on my arms, and it doesn't exist.  I can see how even a non athletic person can kite for hours.  Caye Caulker here I come!
Taking a stroll on the beach with 'teach'

Misconception 3 - I'm gonna slam into Caribbean Villas trying to learn this thing.  HECK NO.  We were taken to the back side of Ambergris Caye to this HUGE area in the flats.  There was a beach, sand bar and endless amounts of real estate to allow the kite to body drag us in waist deep water.  No hotels or docks to worry about, no deep water to struggle in.  Tons of space where we didn't have to worry about people or things - just us and our instructor.  Something else missing - NO Sargasso!!  The water was clean and free of the evil weed.

Embarrassing moment of the day - during one of my body drags I hit a shallow part of the sandbar, drug my waist on it...shorts hit my knees.  I'm happy to say I maintained kite control and got my pants up before anyone noticed.

No one around to worry about - can
learn all over this place!!
So if you've ever even fleetingly considered this it. Head down and do some sailing in Belize at the Belize Sailing Center at Caribbean Villas, and schedule a lesson.  Here's the caveat, let me know when you're going cause I want to come too.  I need to work on my kite control and body drags so I can graduate to a board!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It's Always the Team

There's a grip of things to talk about - but man I'm having a hard time finding the motivation, and if I keep putting it off then it will be such old news no one will really care (I typed that a week now it is all REALLY old new. Also, the more I think about it, the more I think I want to go a completely different way.  So - I think I'll just throw some pics up with very brief descriptions and hit topics largely unrelated to any of the weeks happenings.

Grant got married - 10 minute ceremony and hours of party...perfect.  Carnaval happened.  That was a wikked cool experience!  Bought clothes just to destroy them.  Went to a party with Captain Jack Sparrow as an official rum taster for an world famous blogger.  My official review - "the rum was...liquidy". Actual I had more to say, check it out on the site - //
Went on the best Sunset Sail of all time in celebration of Niles (you know him as "Jake from State Farm") and Parker (you know him as the dude I mouth shared a muffin with).  Killer Sail, no other words to describe the fun times had that day.

Roan - Dive Master, Charter Chef
Speared Lion Fish and served it up!
But after the last couple weeks I need to acknowledge that the fun can be had only because of the work.  I owe a great debt to my parents for educating me in my youth that work leads to fun if done right.  So I do my best to do work right; and I am most blessed to have a team that does the same.  Even today (now a couple days ago...I'm a slaker) our General Manager and I were talking about how amazing each and every one on our team truly is.

Charlie - Dive Master, Charter Captain,
Cooking at staff BBQ
We have a crew that comes in and works 6 days a week as a standard.  During busy season it can easily become 7 days a week, and a few of those 12 hours a day (anytime we sail).  The guests at the start of the day express the same amazement as those getting off the sails 12 hours later - utter amazement that each team member is bouncing all over the boat, smiling, cleaning,
Greg - What doesn't this guy do!
Amazing all around Tour Guide
feeding, whatever to take care of the guest...all while truly enjoying the experience.

Janel - Life of the shop!
As part of my job I try to expand our guest base, draw in business from new sources, etc.  I've been working on a tough nut to crack just down the beach that has strictly patronized a local "mega shop" that shall remain nameless.  They sent us 3 divers for a week; one of which was a student.  The 2 experienced divers have been to Belize several times, stayed at the "Tough Nut" and dove with the "Mega Shop" each time.  They left today feeling like our family; and minutes later that "Tough Nut" called me to set up a meeting for next week (now this week!) to send us more divers and set up packages for the of the little things this team does daily that no one else one.
Shorty - Dive Master, Charter Captain
doing his best to cuddle Pops on a cold ride

I realize I need more picks!  I don't have any good shots a few team members...

As a leader it is always important to remember that you are your team.  Their performance opens the doors.  Their dedication lifts the operations.  I do nothing but help facilitate their greatness.

My bit of managerial advice for the day - don't worry about your guests, don't worry about your potential sources of business; but worry about only one thing.  As a manager (or owner) your focus should be singularly on your team.  Treat them better than they deserve, and let them then live up to that expectation.  Chances are they will.  If you treat your team better than your family - they will shine that to your guests, that word gets out, success will follow.

Thank you to each and every member of the Ecologic team.